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Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Calendar Upgrade Details

February 24th, 2011 by Erick Beck

Since many of you have heard about the calendar upgrade project and have already asked what we’re doing, I’d like to mention a few specific improvements that you’ll see in the new version. Most of them are fixes from elements in the current generation of calendar code that do not work well or at all. Note that several of these input fields are in the collapsible “Additional Details” box, don’t forget about it.

* Subtitles
Michael has recommended to several of you not to use subtitles because of the way the page is formatted. This will no longer be a problem, and we actively encourage the use of subtitles to add information to the event.

* Images
We encourage you to submit images with your calendar events. A combination of interesting event and good artwork will increase the likelihood of your event being chosen to go into the slideshow at the top of the page. We’ll update you with specific image dimensions as we get further along.

* Website
Please give us a link to your event’s web page. Using this box will make the link clickable and sets it off from simply printing it in the event description

*Sponsor
The sponsoring office will now show up on an event description. If we don’t have you already in the list let us know and we’ll be happy to add you.

* Description
We are going to start truncating the descriptions in the event listings pages in order to make the entire page more uniform and readable. We highly encourage you to enter detailed descriptions, though, that can be seen on the full event details page. One of the things I have noticed during this rewrite is the number of events with interesting titles but descriptions that don’t really tell me what it’s about or make me want to attend.

* Ongoing Events
This is a big one that should please a lot of people. Currently only the first day of an event is shown on the weekly and monthly calendar views. Now we will be able to show each day of multi-day events. This should save a lot of work for those of you who had been making a separate event for each day to make sure it showed up.

* Short URLs
Using the bit.ly API we can assign a short URL to each page on the calendar. This automatically gets wrapped into the new Twitter “share this” icon.

* Organization of Event Types & Sub-calendars
We have created one master list combining event types and sub-calendars, and moved from pull-down menus to printed links. This should help the problem of finding specific topical events. Please review this page, and if you think your calendar has been mis-categorized please let us know.

Also send along any other suggestions you might have, it’s never too late to make a better product.

Making these updates has given me a much better view than I’ve had in the past regarding how the calendar is being used, some common mis-perceptions, and some areas where we haven’t done a great job in communicating how to best use it. As we get into the process Michael and I will be posting a series of hints and best practices to help everybody get the most out of the system with the least effort.

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Thursday, February 24th, 2011 Calendar
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3 Comments to Calendar Upgrade Details

  1. I love the new layout!

    I’d love to start using subtitles, but I ran into a big problem for us: the subtitles aren’t part of the RSS feed. Is there a way you can add them, or is there a parameter I can add to the URL’s query string to fetch them?

  2. Stephanie Leary on February 28th, 2011
  3. Hey Steph, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately the RSS specification doesn’t give us another tag that would let us add the subtitle field. Given the length of many of these titles and subtitles I worry that concatenating the two together into one title field would make it too long, though we can always revisit this option if it becomes an issue. You can, though, pull subtitles (and pretty much anything else in the database) out of the raw XML stream. To get this view simply change the URL from format=rss to format=xml.

  4. Erick on March 1st, 2011
  5. Thanks, I’ll give that a try.

  6. Stephanie Leary on March 2nd, 2011

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